FT names first winners of award program

ORLANDO, Fla. — At this year’s 20th annual Furniture Today Leadership Conference, the publication presented its inaugural Furniture Industry Leadership Awards, a new recognition program in which the retailers, manufacturers and consumers select the honorees.

The first-of-its-kind industry awards program is designed to recognize best-in-class retail organizations at three sales volume levels: under $50 million, $51 million to $350 million and more than $350 million.

In addition to retailer awards given in three categories — Peer Honors, Industry Honors and Voice of the Consumer Honors — one manufacturer received the Best Product of the Year award, based on an open-selection by retailers.

From the 30 finalists, 10 Grand FILA Winners have been honored with 2016 awards.

Peer Honors Grand FILA Winners

• Under $50 million:

Owners Daniel Lubner and his father, Clive, launched their first Clive Daniel store in 2011 in Naples, following the closure of Top 100 retailer Robb & Stucky, which Clive had headed. Their second store in Boca Raton, Fla., fills a similar niche with a creative mix of upper-middle to high-end lines backed by top-notch service. The company retained many of the core team from Robb & Stucky, giving it a jump-start that helped power average sales per square foot to $500 in 2015.

• $51 million to $350 million:

Roche Bobois is a unique player in the high-end market, partnering with renowned designers such as Ora Ito, Sacha Lakic, Christophe Delcourt and Stephen Burks and global fashion houses (Jean Paul Gaultier, Sonia Rykiel Maison and Missoni Home) to create trend-setting contemporary and classic furniture sold only through its own branded stores. Founded in 1960, the family owned manufacturer/retailer now operates an international network of more than 250 stores in 50 countries, including 27 stores in the U.S.

• More than $350 million:

Wayfair continues to roll out a host of new technologies to enhance the furniture shopping experience. In April 2016, Wayfair set up a tent at the High Point Market so marketgoers could test a new virtual-reality application. In June, the e-tailer launched WayfairView, a new smartphone application that allows shoppers to visualize furniture and décor in their homes at scale before buying. This fall, Wayfair also launched the Wayfair wedding registry and unveiled the “The Way Home,” the first fully shoppable TV series. All this with the design of making it easier for consumers to shop Wayfair’s five furnishings brands from any location at any time.

Industry Honors Grand FILA Winners

• Under $50 million:

Seeking to eliminate the challenges that can be associated with shopping for upholstery, Edgar Blazona launched BenchMade Modern in 2015 — a Los Angeles-based upholstery factory that sells directly to consumers online and through a showroom in San Francisco. In a short period of time, the company has made a big impact with consumers, who like the custom options, value pricing and quick delivery being provided by this ambitious startup.

• $51 million to $350 million:

Always evolving and looking for a better way to serve its customers, City Furniture is an avid believer in “Lean,” a management philosophy pioneered by Toyota that seeks to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. The approach sets clear goals for improving day by day, week by week and year by year, so that teams continually raise the bar in terms of performance and customer satisfaction. The approach has served City well in good times and bad, providing a platform for this 16-store chain’s steady growth and expansion.

• More than $350 million:

Nebraska Furniture Mart placed a huge bet on Dallas when it built a new $400 million store in the market — its first in the state. Measuring 1.85 million square feet, with 560,000 square feet of selling space, the store has more than 100,000 items, including 165 recliners, 110 bedroom suites, 500 hanging area rugs and 75 washer/dryer pairs. Already the highest-volume home furnishings store in the U.S., NFM’s Dallas location is leveraging the retailer’s longtime strengths — exceptional service, inspirational room settings and value pricing — to pursue an ambitious path of continuous growth..

Voice of the Consumer Honors Grand FILA Winners

• Under $50 million:

See Benchmade Modern’s profile under the Industry Honors category.

• $51 million to $350 million:

For nearly 40 years, Z Gallerie has inspired interior designers and style influencers with its creative, cutting-edge furnishings. Founded in 1979 as a small poster shop in Sherman Oaks, Calif., Z Gallerie has always made art a key cornerstone of its unique design aesthetic, evident today in the line’s handmade textiles, adaptations of architectural principles and re-creations of objects from the natural world. The specialty chain’s mix includes furniture, lighting, rugs, bedding, tabletop items and a wide range of decorative accessories.

• More than $350 million:

The success of Amazon’s showroom launch in Las Vegas this year reinforced the company’s belief that furniture suppliers are eager to delve into the world of e-commerce. A global force in so many product categories, Amazon has identified home furnishings as a new area for growth. Brands already carried include Acme, Ashley, Coaster, Homelegance, Sauder, Serta, Simmons and South Shore. Look for Amazon’s list of furniture vendors to grow substantially in the coming years.

Best Product of the Year FILA Winner

In January, Serta introduced a host of new iComfort models, seeking to spark a new growth surge for a line that has been hailed as one of the most successful launches in mattress history. In addition to introducing the line’s first hybrid gelcoil beds, the update includes a multi-million-dollar investment in the iComfort brand, facilitating the development of an array of fresh and stylish display materials, and a significant spend on digital media. Now promoted as Serta iComfort, this high-profile line is well positioned to deliver the multiple benefits that consumers want.

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